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2007 Washington Preview
Posted Jul 24, 2007

Preview 2007 Washington Huskies

Washington Huskies

Preview 2007

By Richard Cirminiello

- 2007 UW Offense Preview | 2007 UW Defense Preview
2007 UW Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Washington Preview 

Maybe last year’s 4-1, see-you-in-a-bowl-game start to the season was the worst the thing that could have happened to Washington.  It artificially raised expectations beyond the team’s capabilities, and a season of progress was watered down when the Huskies plummeted back to Earth in the second half of the year.  In a year marked by wild swings, the Huskies started fast, lost six in a row and finished with an Apple Cup upset of Washington State.

Head coach: Ty Willingham 
3rd year: 7-16
13th year: 72-67-1
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 17, Def. 18, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 26
Ten Best UW Players
1. DE Greyson Gunheim, Sr.
2. RB Louis Rankin, Sr.
3. DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Soph.
4. WR Marcel Reese, Sr.
5. QB Jake Locker, Soph.
6. WR Anthony Russo, Sr.
7. LB Dan Howell, Sr.
8. C Juan Garcia, Sr.
9. CB Roy Lewis, Sr.
10. FS Jason Wells, Jr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

Aug. 31

at Syracuse

Sept. 8

Boise State

Sept. 15

Ohio State

Sept. 22


Sept. 29


Oct. 13

at Arizona State

Oct. 20


Oct. 27


Nov. 3

at Stanford

Nov. 10

at Oregon State

Nov. 17


Nov. 24

Washington State

Dec. 1

at Hawaii

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record: 5
Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/2 San Jose State W 35-28
9/9 at Oklahoma L 37-20
9/16 Fresno State W 21-20
9/23 UCLA W 29-19
9/30 at Arizona W 21-10
10/7 at USC L 26-20
10/14 Oregon State L 27-17
10/21 at California L 31-24 OT
10/28 Arizona St L 26-23 OT
11/4 at Oregon L 34-14
11/11 Stanford L 20-3
11/18 at Wash St W 35-32

Forget what might have been last year, or that Washington nearly bypassed a few steps on the long road back to respectability.  The big picture still says that the program is making positive strides under Tyrone Willingham, doubling its win total in each of the last two seasons and gradually bolstering the base of talent in Seattle.  Unfortunately, that trend is going to take a break in 2007, as the Huskies tackle a wicked schedule with a handful of newcomers on both sides of the ball.

Since last winning the Pac-10 in 2000, Washington has sorely lacked an identity, as well as that one marquee individual who can bring national notoriety to the program.  That could be about to change if, as expected, Willingham hands the offense over to Jake Locker, a can’t-miss redshirt freshman quarterback who already has the locals buzzing.  Every upstart team needs a larger-than-life figure to rally around, and now that he’s unseated senior Carl Bonnell, Locker has the potential to be that guy early in his career.

Just three years removed from a one-win season, Washington is traveling north, even if that progress doesn’t show up in the win column this fall.  Patience again will be the operative word around campus, because 2007 will be more about setting the table for 2008 than making a long-awaited return to the postseason.       

What to watch for on offense: For Washington fans, Locker is like a sealed present they can’t wait to unwrap.  At this stage, he’s a bigger, more mobile version of former Husky Marques Tuiasosopo, which is a nice fit for Tim Lappano’s offense.  Whether Locker proves he’s ready or Bonnell holds the job, the quarterbacks need a playmaker or two to emerge out of a pedestrian group of backs and receivers.  One possibility is running back J.R. Hasty, who’s behind Louis Rankin and hasn’t played since his final game of high school in 2004, but has difference-maker potential if he can outrun academic problems.     

What to watch for on defense: The defensive line, which returns all four starters, has to be even better than last year in order to protect a secondary that allowed 240 passing yards a game in 2006 and will be without C.J. Wallace and Dashon Goldson.  Greyson Gunheim is a disruptive end with the speed and quickness of an outside linebacker.  Don’t sleep on the linebackers just because Scott White and Tahj Bomar have graduated.  Their departures open the door for E.J. Savannah, Chris Stevens and Donald Butler, rising kids who could make the unit even better.   

The team will be far better if … it can create more turnovers.  The fastest way for less talented teams to close the gap is from takeaways, but the Huskies had just 14 a year ago, which meant too many long drives for an offense that lacked home run hitters.

The Schedule: Good luck completing the turnaround with this slate. When a trip across the country to face Syracuse is your breather before November, you know you’re in trouble. Does anyone have a rougher five-game stretch than Boise State, Ohio State, at UCLA, USC, at Arizona State? If the Huskies can win two of those, it’ll be a tremendous success. And that’s just the first half of the season, with Oregon, at Oregon State and Cal still to deal with. Fortunately, the Dawgs have the bowl-like season finale at Hawaii, so they can go somewhere warm in December.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore RB J.R. Hasty.  Hasty hasn’t even logged a carry at this level, so this recognition is a testament to his potential, as well as the frightening dearth of playmakers on the Husky offense.  The crown jewel of the 2005 recruiting class sat out last season to concentrate on academics, but is the one player on the roster with game-changing skills, once he finally gets out of the starting blocks.    

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Greyson Gunheim.  For two years running, Gunheim has been the Huskies’ most consistent pass-rusher, and he needs to be again.  At 6-5 and 265 pounds, he’s strong at the point of attack, yet possesses the kind of eye-popping closing speed that’s usually seen in much smaller ends and outside linebackers. 

Key player to a successful season: Senior LB Dan Howell. With Tahj Bomar and Scott White gone, Howell has to play like a star veteran on the outside and must start making more plays. He hasn’t been a special player so far and hasn’t been enough of a disruptive force, but it he can start to become a leader of the linebacking corps, the defense might not slip.

The season will be a success if ... the Huskies win six games. Without a few big upsets and with absolutely no slips against teams like Syracuse, Arizona and Stanford, they can forget about going to a bowl game with their brutal schedule. Even so, the lines are solid, Willingham has upgraded the skill positions over the last few seasons, and the team found a way to win five games last season and come close in three others. Getting to six would be a great step forward.

Key game: Sept. 8 vs. Boise State. While this isn’t the Boise State of last year, the program is good enough to reload in a hurry. However, it shouldn’t be back to BCS/beat Oklahoma status by September 8. Even so, a win over the Broncos would get Washington in the national headlines, just in time to get ready for Ohio State to come to town.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Washington 1st quarter scoring: 30; Washington 2nd quarter scoring: 110
- Fumbles: Washington 18 (lost 6); Opponents 18 (lost 4)
- Penalties: Washington 60 for 508 yards; Opponents 76 for 583 yards


Related Stories
2007 Washington Preview - Offense
 -by  Jul 24, 2007
2007 Washington Preview - Defense
 -by  Jul 24, 2007
2007 Washington Preview - Depth Chart
 -by  Jul 24, 2007

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